RTDNA: Tips to help TV journalists maximize Facebook Live

Posted January 12, 2017
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It's hard to believe that it has only been about a year since Facebook introduced its new Live feature. Facebook live allows anyone with a smartphone and the Facebook app to broadcast live to Facebook users with just the tap of a button.  What used to cost millions to do, with lots of equipment, a crew and a satellite, can now be done for free.

While many average people have utilized Live, many traditional news outlets and broadcasters, from The New York Times to local news stations, have also taken to the trend and have started using it to supplement their traditional broadcasts.  For local news stations this has manifested itself in a few different ways. Some stations have used it to do more in-depth reporting, breaking news, and other short form updates, and other have used it to broaden their reach and broadcast events of national import.

One such station is Fox 10 in Phoenix.  Fox 10 has used its Facebook Live and YouTube live pages to stream full coverage of national events -- this week they are carrying most of the cabinet confirmation hearings. This has proven to be quite successful. On YouTube Fox 10 has over 100,000 subscribers and they sell ads on their coverage -- confirmation of Mike Pompeo today is brought to us by Desert Diamond.

There is no doubt that live streaming, and particularly Facebook Live, is a great way for TV broadcasters to enter the Internet. However, there are some good tips to keep in mind when making a Facebook Live strategy. Simon Perez of RTDNA shares some tips with us from Carlos Castañeda of KPIX in San Diego.

Perez reports:

A Knight Foundation report showed nearly 90 percent of people who owned a cell phone used it to access news.
Combine mobile usage with Facebook’s ever-growing number of users (nearly 1.8 billion in the third quarter of 2016) and you’ve got a huge potential to reach a huge audience.
But how often have we heard: “This social media app is a game changer.” Who says Snapchat won’t go the way of Myspace? Remember Vine?

Since Facebook Live doesn’t appear to be going anywhere anytime soon, let’s discuss the two ideal scenarios for using it in a television news operation:

1. Breaking news. So often, reporters show up to a scene that needs to be covered right now, before the microwave or Dejero or LiveU signals can be established. With a cellphone and a good service connection, one person can broadcast what’s happening now using a cellphone, without any help. Here’s an example of a breaking news story that KPIX broadcast via Facebook Live.
2. Long-form reports with audience interaction. So often 1:30 isn’t enough time to relay to viewers all a reporter has found out. Inviting viewers to join the conversation on Facebook Live after the newscast creates another opportunity to engage, retain and expand that audience.

Here are five best practices Castañeda recommends to help engage, retain and expand your audience:

  1. Make sure the title is a clear, direct description of what's in the video.
  2. Avoid promotional phrases such as "coming up," "click for more," "Tonight at 11." This is not for teasing the story; it’s for telling the story.
  3. Be prepared to be live for a while to give people a chance to come across your post - five to 10 minutes minimum. You can extend the recording by doing a recap: "For those of you just joining us..."
  4. Identify yourself and where you are at the top of the live broadcast, and also frequently throughout, as latecomers join the conversation.
  5. Acknowledge the people who engage with you, either by voice live on the air or afterwards. Even if it’s just a click on a comment, engagement builds the audience.

KPIX has been using Facebook Live for about a year and has seen its video views on the web increase tenfold.

Read the full post here.


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